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Michelle S

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)


Emotion, child/adolescent development, early adversity, mental health, development social affective neuroscience, social psychology, experimental design, research methods, statistics


Hello, my name is Michelle Shipkova and I am so excited about becoming a mentor with Polygence! I am a second-year PhD student at UNC Chapel Hill passionate about researching emotional development in childhood and adolescence, with a focus on how social others (e.g., parents and friends) and early life adversities (e.g., experiences of threat and deprivation) impact our understandings of, beliefs about, and management of emotional experiences. I am also particularly interested in neuroscience methods (fMRI) to study emotion-related brain development. While my current research does not have a focus on theater, I combined my passions and double majored in psychology and theater arts at Loyola Marymount University, developing a senior thesis on the relationship between acting and emotion regulation. I am excited to mentor students with creative project ideas and guide them on how to develop a research idea that is interesting to them! In my free time, I love to hike, hang out with friends, and travel to new places. France has been my favorite country out of those I've visited so far. A couple other random facts about me are that I have been sky diving and love to eat florally flavored ice-creams (lavender & rose especially)!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Writing a Literature Review

By writing a literature review, you will learn how to locate, critically analyze, and synthesize existing scientific literature on a topic of interest to you! Some questions that interest me are: - How do interpersonal relationships shape the ways we understand and experience our emotions? - How does early life adversity (e.g., poverty, neglect) impact emotional development? - What is the influence of acting (or theater arts) on the development of social and emotional skills? Here is an example of one of these project ideas in a little more depth: - Our lives are intersected with emotions, especially during adolescence, and how we deal with (or regulate) them play a crucial role in our mental health. However, we rarely navigate our emotions alone; we seek the social support of those around us—particularly parents and friends. In this review, we will investigate how parents and friends both socialize (or influence) emotions in adolescence, and how these emotional dynamics might impact mental health and well-being outcomes.

Coding skills

I am proficient in SPSS and R software.

Languages I know

Russian, native speaker

Teaching experience

I have been an instructional assistant for 2 semesters at UNC - once for a social media, technology and adolescent brain development class, and another time for a child development class. I've graded students' papers, held office hours, and gave guest lectures as a part of this role. I also mentor a number of undergraduate students in research settings within my labs.


Work experience

Loyola Marymount University (2019 - 2021)
Research Assistant and Laboratory Manager, Dr. Chéla Willey
Loyola Marymount University (2019 - 2020)
Research Assistant, Dr. Negin Ghavami
University of Southern California (2020 - 2022)
Diversity, Inclusion, Access (DIA) Jumpstart Scholar, Dr. Lisa Aziz-Zadeh
Loyola Marymount University (2020 - 2022)
Research Assistant, Dr. Diana Santacrose


Loyola Marymount University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2022)
Psychology and Theater Arts
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

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